It’s one thing for me to say I want to live a more sustainable lifestyle, it’s still another to say I’ve made changes. Once in a while I actually need to see the results to know I’m on the right path.
I don’t want to just dream about living a better life, I want to live it.
When I made my move a year ago, I had several priorities I wanted to focus on….time to see how I’ve done.
Spend more time with family
This was easy to accomplish. Once the price of gas was no longer a factor in how often I could see my children and grand-children I began to see them much more. Living car-free most days I have the money to afford the longer trips to see my youngest.
I also finally gave in to accept that I needed a wheel chair to be able to enjoy more activities and broaden my experiences. This one change allows me to be more active with my grand-children which has been wonderful.
I’d say this goal was reached within days of my move. I get to see family nearly every day. Some days the visits are longer than others, but it works.
Reduce my dependency on fossil fuels
The number of items we use daily that are made from oil/petroleum is truly mind-blogging. Sure we think about heating our homes or the gas we put in our car, but I had never thought about the amount of oil used to produce items I used to use on my skin, for example. Check out the list here
Here’s a short list of items made from petroleum:
- aspirin, painkillers and vitamins
- nylon and other synthetic materials
- food additives and food colorings
- and all lubrication including personal lubes
Did you know petroleum is used in the making of bubble gum? Yuck, I hadn’t known that! Here are a few more items made from petroleum:
- anything made of plastic
- rubber (including tires)
- latex, so much for that latex mattress I had my eyes on
- vinyl, who likes vinyl anyway?
I found a list of products made from petroleum here, and listed the items I still own which use or were made of oil. Here’s my list:
- one pair of curtains
- a few articles of clothing that are of synthetic blends
- crayons and markers
- ball point pens
- two combs for my hair
- CD’s and DVDs
- container my deodorant comes in
- trash bags
- shower curtain
- two plastic bowls
- a plastic handled mop and broom
In addition I still own a car, so any lubrication for the vehicle that I use and the gas in my car can be added to this list. I have cut my mileage down to an average so far of 14oo miles a year, not enough for an oil change and getting the mileage I do that comes out to approximately 5o gallons of gasoline per year or 5 fill-ups per year in my 10 gallon tank. Much better than a couple of years ago, when I filled my car up 3 times per month.
The average American uses petroleum products at a rate of 3.5 gallons of oil and more than 250 cubic feet of natural gas per day.
Eat more local and organic foods
While my local grocer has almost completely discontinued carrying organic produce, I have started to grow my own food and frequent the farmer’s market to eat better. I still have some way to go to eliminate foods which are trucked in, but I think by next year I should be much closer to my goal.
Toxins in my home
Right now the only chemical product I have in my home is a half gallon of primer, definitely not the zero VOC brand, all my cleaning and personal care products otherwise are toxin free. So I am happy with my progress here.
Left with one big question
While most of what I let go of went to thrift shops in the local area, looking at my list of items I would like to get rid of in my “still own that came from petroleum” list, I’m wondering what would be the best way to get rid of these, or why I should bother at this point. All the items I have left were purchased many years ago, so by eliminating them I will need to find alternative products to replace them, making me a consumer again. These are mostly small items. How would you get rid of them in an environmentally safe manner, or would you keep them?
How are you doing to free yourself from fossil fuels? Which items were you surprised to find on the list?